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My phone beeps, message notification from service provider. It reads, ‘Dear customer, you have used up 75% of your data bundle.’ I go into severe shock. How could this have happened? I subscribed to a data plan of 2GB just the previous day. I check my data balance and I have only 750MB left.  My world comes to a standstill.

I am broke. Yesterday I had 3200 naira, from which I used 2000 naira to purchase the data leaving me with only 1200 naira. Now, the data that was supposed to last for a month was gone in just one day! And I have no hope of getting money anytime soon.  No facebook, twitter or whatsapp. I start sweating.  There is no way 750 MB would last for a month.

Just then another beep, message from service provider. My heart leaps with hope, maybe they have discovered their error and reinstalled my data. I open the message. ‘Dear customer, you have used up your data bundle.’ I scream in anguish as if I am being tortured by a Spanish Inquisitor. I frantically check my data balance. 0.0MB. I look at my phone in disbelief. Without data it feels just like a brick.

I have a moment of clarity, check my update history and there it is. ‘’You successfully updated 19 applications.’’ Jesus of Kumasi! Me? When? How? I never update my applications unless it stops working or my life depends on it.  All to conserve data and now it is all gone. I remember my neighbors’ daughter, Rita fiddling with my phone the previous day. She probably put it on auto update.  I look out of the window and the whole world has gone bleak. No data.

Just then the realization that the worst is yet to come grips me. My credit! I had borrowed 200 naira credit and since my data was gone it was bound to start using up my credit. I quickly switch off my data and check my credit balance. ‘’Your credit balance is 2 naira.’’ I am too stunned to react.

I lie on my bed contemplating life without data. It is unbearable. I would rather use my last 1000 naira to subscribe, and starve, than to live life without data. I walk to the junction, buy 1000 naira credit, go back home and load it.  Message notification. ‘’Your 200 Naira loan is fully repaid. Your balance is now 800 naira.’’

Otio! I had forgotten that I borrowed credit. I sit on my bed and put my hand on my jaw.   I can’t bundle data with 800 naira. I need 200 naira to bundle data. All the money I have left is just 300 naira. But there is no point keeping the 800 naira credit, I might as well take the final plunge and buy the 200 naira credit. How I am going to survive with 100 naira is what I do not know.

I leave my phone charging and walk back to the junction to get the credit. I look so despondent.  Lizzy the card seller asks if I am okay. I force a smile and say I am, but I feel like bursting into tears.

I open my door to find Rita my neighbor’s daughter in the living room fiddling with my phone. ‘’Drop that phone!’’ I scream. She is so shocked she drops it on the ground. I do not answer her silly questions and she walks out angrily. I give her a dirty look. If I was Elijah I would have called down fire from heaven to consume her. I proceed to load the credit and then bundle it but it says,’ ’you do not have sufficient credit to complete this operation.’’

Africa! Is 200 + 800 not = 1000? I check my credit balance. It is 990 naira. What kind of wahala is this? Where did the ten naira go?  I check my phone and realize Rita has switched on my data and it has eaten into my credit. I cannot bundle. I need 10 Naira to complete it.

I have made up my mind. I am buying a Nokia 3310 tommorow.

Jude Abu

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